Friday after Misericordias Domini
Scripture: Ezekiel 34:12-22 (NKJV)
34:12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”
17 ‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. 18 Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture—and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.”
20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, 22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.”
With today’s appointed Scripture God directs words to His flock, His sheep. They are words which distinguish “between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.” In yesterday’s reading the false and wicked shepherds were removed from office; today the false and wicked sheep are removed from the fold. Those sheep who were strong or with power to influence were using their influence to oppress the weak.
St. Paul makes a distinction between sheep at the administration of the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, saying, “For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Cor. 11:19). The rich “were getting drunk” and the weak were “hungry.” St. Paul exhorts them saying, “Do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing?” Through Jesus’ provisions of Word and Sacrament His flock is led to good pasture. He will save His flock from the oppressive sheep. And He will guide His flock to love each other and lift up the weak.
There are surely those sheep who are strong—thanks be to God. Nevertheless, our God is not just the God of the strong, but also of the weak. Our God desires to “bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick.” The strong are not to use their strength to oppress, but to help the weak. Rom. 15:1-2, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”
We pray: O Lord, trusting in Your forgiveness, give us strength in Your Word. Lead us to love our neighbor, bear with the weak, and carry their burdens. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.